Have you noticed a horizontal scroll bar showing up more frequently in your web browser? More Web sites these days seem to be designed for larger monitors. However a larger monitor doesn’t necessarily mean a larger browser window.
I don’t keep my browser window maximized on my desktop. I find it to be a waste of real estate as most Web sites don’t fill the content area of my large screen. So I minimize my browser window to the size of an 800×600 resolution screen. This makes it easy to have multiple windows open at the same time.
Lately I’ve noticed many sites in my browser are activating the annoying horizontal scroll bar. It is an unpleasant surfing experience to have to scroll from left to right. Since my Internet Explorer window is set to a width of 800 pixels, apparently more web designers are producing layouts which require a canvas of 1024 pixels to display the page without horizontal scroll. Webmonkey.com has some good text about this topic.
MSN.ca is incorporating user selectable widow sizes. Page options at http://sympatico.msn.ca/ offer the narrow view (800×600) and wide screen view (1024×768) At MSN.ca, the visitor has a choice. This is the most clever solution to the problem of horizontal scrolling.
I hear often, “what size should I design my web page?” There are many answers to that question. Mainly, you want to find out what your visitors are using for a browser window size. Plus you can check the browser stats available at http://www.upsdell.com/BrowserNews/stat_trends.htm#browser
It is important to note that the display resolution says little about the size of the browser window, and users can normally resize the browser window. Consequently no particular browser window size should be assumed.
The safest size to ensure that nobody is scrolling horizontally is 800 pixels. You could have your site created for 1024 pixels if you think you’ll have content to fill it. The 1024 size will annoy some Visitors until they resize their browser windows to the larger layout. The best solution is to do it like MSN.ca and create a layout that can be manipulated by the user.